Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 91

State Security Minister Missir Ashirkulov announced yesterday that an underground Islamic “extremist” organization has been uncovered in Kyrgyzstan. He described the organization as run by foreign citizens busy recruiting Kyrgyz youths for training as “religious fighters” in camps situated in “neighboring countries.” According to the official version, the operation yielded large amounts of printed, audio and video material propagating “jihad” (Islamic holy war) and “sadism.” Ashirkulov warned that his ministry would step up actions against “Wahhabi and other extremist religious leaders and preachers.” (Russian agencies, May 11; see also the item above.)

It is not immediately clear whether the authorities link this alleged conspiracy with the one they purported to reveal on May 1 (see the Monitor, May 5). The state-controlled and usually tame Spiritual Directorate of Muslims has protested against such allegations, describing them as misrepresentations which both offend Muslims in general and undermine stability in the country (see the Monitor, May 11). The Spiritual Directorate has long complained that state authorities restrict the activity of mainstream Muslim missionaries from abroad, but not the activity of Christian missionaries. President Askar Akaev has not yet commented on these developments, leading to an impression that the Security Ministry drives the state’s policy in the sphere of religion.–VS